From Travelers to Marketers: Advocate Marketing for Hospitality
The desire to travel to the depths and corners of the world exists in almost every person. This is why it makes perfect sense that the travel and hospitality industries are so massive, and still have even more potential. But the first thing that hotels, tour businesses, and other tourism companies will have to do to make full use of that potential is to reach out to more and more people by creating enough awareness, and then convincing consumers that they should spend their money on these particular services. And that’s where advocate marketing for hospitality comes in.
Advocate Marketing for Hospitality
As the name suggests, the brand advocate is someone who is your brand evangelist. He is someone who will talk about your brand to people. But contrary to what many people believe, the scope of advocate marketing isn’t just about referral programs. Of course, it’s a vital part of advocacy efforts, but that’s not the only part. Other parts are equally powerful and important–advocates also share photos, write reviews, connect with your brand on social, and do so much more.
There is a very pertinent reason why all the aforementioned solutions work seamlessly for hospitality. All these advocacy solutions operate predominantly on digital platforms. Of course, buyers of other industries also use digital platforms to find products and services, but the discovery of travel destinations has been utterly transformed by the internet. That’s why Traveler’s Road to Decision says that an incredible 65% of leisure travelers are inspired by online resources, most notably through social/video sites and searches. You already have people in need of more information and exploration. Advocate marketing for hospitality can easily fulfill that need by motivating your loyal customer to post a referral link on his social media account so that it will become digitally visible for those who are in need of more information. You can even use your own website to create an outlet where people can know about your advocacy efforts. Now, we will look into how advocate marketing for hospitality actually works.
Advocate Marketing for Hospitality: Ratings and Reviews
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this obvious piece of advocate marketing for hospitality companies, but we’ll only spend a moment on it. Reviews are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry. The biggest sites that travelers look to for information about where to stay, what to see, where to eat, and so on all have user generated content as a large component–if not the central component–of their sites. After all, consumers trust reviews by other shoppers 12 times more than content created by brands. To understand how to optimize Ratings and Reviews on your site, take a look at our ultimate best practices guide!
Advocate Marketing for Hospitality: Referral Programs
There is a basic difference between buying any other thing and buying a holiday package. People come back from vacation with the memories of beautiful moments and places they experienced and carry those memories with them for a long time. That’s the prime reason why they want to be absolutely sure about the holiday destination as well as the accommodation facilities and food. They have seen it too many times that the rooms, which they see in the glitzy ads, are not what one might see after actually going there. In such a despair, a voice of some close friend or relative does carry weight. The bonding with those people allows them to trust their near and dear ones. That’s how referrals actually work. In fact, many travel agencies and companies have already embraced the magic of referral programs. Journeyful came up with a referral program with the claim of being ‘the most comprehensive rewards program in travel.’ The program works in the following way:
- Your customer gets $25 for signing up at Journeyful.
- Your customer refers his friend.
- The friend gets email being invited to sign up; gets $25 for signing up.
- When the customer’s friend makes a booking, he gets a $X booking reward that he can use in future.
- Your customer receives the same $X as a referral reward.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 forever…
What is interesting to note here is that the loyal customer isn’t given a one-time reward for referring his friend. He’ll keep on getting rewarded every time his friend makes a booking! Similarly, when the customer’s friend makes a purchase, he can earn booking rewards of up to 8% of his booking fee. If you want to implement a referral program or to take your existing one to the next level, don’t miss out on our best practices white paper, “The Step-by-Step Guide for a Powerful Referral Program!”
Advocate Marketing for Hospitality: Visual Commerce
In essence, visual commerce is an umbrella term that includes, but isn’t strictly restricted to:
- Collecting thousands of high quality user generated photos and videos from sources like Instagram to curate across your site
- Using your flexible on-site galleries to make shoppable displays of brand photos
- Making your Instagram shoppable with a solution like Shoppic.me
The canvas of travel is full of beautiful elements like serene landscapes, old buildings, or sumptuous and colorful food delicacies…and it’s a common norm that people capture these moments in their cameras to relive them once they go back to their homes. That’s what makes photos an integral part of the holiday experience and that’s the reason why Instagram and Pinterest are flooded with such images. And these are the photos that marketers can and should use on their social media platforms, website, and use for other marketing initiatives. User generated content in this sense is nothing but testimonials in the form of photos. Hence, whenever your customers are traveling with you on their vacation, think about asking them to submit their photos. The only job then remains for you is to curate them properly and display that curation on multiple channels. This is how Jetsetter, a dealer in the holiday sector, is using visual glimpses of their tourists’ journeys. For more ideas on how to boost sales, recognition, and engagement with visual social content, take a look at our guides:
- “Sell Experiences, Not Clothes: Visual Commerce and the Fashion Industry”
- “The New Wave of User Generated Content: 7 Concepts for 2017 and Beyond”
- “A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words: A Visual Commerce Best Practices eBook”
- “Visual Commerce Permissions: Vital Best Practices for Using User Generated Content“
Advocate Marketing for Hospitality: Post-Purchase Sharing
People post immediately on social media after buying a car, home or even a phone? Why? It’s simply because it’s only humane to talk about our new purchases. It’s the excitement to share the joy which comes with the buying of a new thing. Clearly, if utilized properly and wisely, it’s an opportunity to turn your customer who has purchased something from you into a brand advocate. Even though travelers often book their trips months in advance, you shouldn’t have to wait to capitalize on their excitement. Enable post-purchase sharing to let them flaunt their upcoming holiday! Just imagine what it means to share on your social media account that you have just purchased a Europe tour package. In the era where people even share their coffee outings, this is definitely worth sharing. The most loved part of this solution is that what people are doing voluntarily, you are using for your brand propagation. There is hardly anything which is as mutually beneficial as this for both you and your customer! This is how Jetsetter is encouraging post-purchase sharing. In A Nutshell… The rarity of the holiday tours, the emotional attachment with vacations and the exclusive visual nature of the travel industry… truly, advocate marketing for hospitality makes perfect sense. However, one research report says that only 30% felt their team currently had all the skills required to effectively manage an influencer or advocate program. It’s not that hard, though, when you have the right software to automate it! Thus, it’s a high time that marketers think seriously about implementing these solutions as soon as possible as its usefulness has been proven umpteen number of times! Note: For more tips on cultivating advocacy among your customers, check out our guide, “21 Ways to Turn Customers into Advocates!” And don’t forget about the potential of loyalty for the hospitality industry! Take a look at “Advocate Loyalty: A Four-Point Strategy!“